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White House would veto Iran sanctions bill

On Thursday, both Democratic and Republican senators backed a legislation that would impose new sanctions on Iran

Published: Updated:

The White House warned on Thursday that it would veto new congressional legislation that would toughen sanctions against Iran, because it could sink a final deal to stop Tehran getting a nuclear bomb.

About 26 Democratic and Republican senators on Thursday backed a legislation that would impose new sanctions on Tehran if it violated a six-month interim nuclear agreement reached last month or if no final deal is reached.

The White House appears alarmed that the move could undermine the Iranian negotiating team or offer the Islamic republic an excuse to walk away from the negotiations.

“This action is unnecessary,” Agence France-Presse quote White House spokesman Jay Carney as saying.

“We don’t think it will be enacted. If it were enacted, the president would veto it,” Carney warned.

He added: “It is very important to refrain from taking an action that would potentially disrupt the opportunity here for a diplomatic resolution of this challenge.”

The Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act was introduced by Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Robert Menendez, fellow Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer and Republican Senator Mark Kirk.

“Current sanctions brought Iran to the negotiating table and a credible threat of future sanctions will require Iran to cooperate and act in good faith,” said Menendez in a statement introducing the legislation.

Meanwhile, a Senate vote won’t happen until January at the earliest, and it’s unclear whether the bill will have enough support to pass.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has indicated he is opposed to bringing such a bill to the floor in January, saying he agreed with the Obama administration’s call to give the delicate negotiations a chance to work.

(With AFP and AP)